Any advice for avoiding or mitigating jet lag?

Questions & AnswersCategory: Travel Day LogisticsAny advice for avoiding or mitigating jet lag?
Sean Tierney Staff asked 5 months ago

Any recommendations for meds or rituals like taking your shoes off that help make long plane flights more tolerable? .

1 Answers
Sean Tierney Staff answered 5 months ago

This is a deep-dive research post.

Sources:
https://www.tuck.com/preventing-jet-lag/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/jet-lag/symptoms-causes/syc-20374027 https://www.skyscanner.net/news/jetlag-15-tips-beating-timezone-tiredness
https://www.skyscanner.net/news/tips/how-to-survive-a-long-haul-flight
https://www.fodors.com/news/10-tips-to-avoid-jet-lag-4457
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/health/jet-lag
https://www.legalnomads.com/jet-lag-tips/
The advice basically breaks down into 3 phases based on timing:

Leading up to your flight

  1. Ideally book an overnight flight so you can sleep on the plane. The general advice is to be well-rested and not hungover or sick if you can avoid it going into a travel day
  2. Airline choice matters. If you want to get super nitpicky A350s and A380s are the models that have special humidification and LED window lighting to simulate phases of the day at the target destination and keep the environment humidified.
  3. If you can afford business class or an exit row that will obviously be more comfortable leg-room-wise and improve your likelihood of being able to sleep comfortably. Getting a window seat allows you to lean your head on something which can make it easier to sleep. “Seat pitch” is something that can be researched in advance if you’re choosing between airlines and is an indicator of how much legroom you’ll have.
  4. Adapt your sleep schedule as best you can to the destination time in advance. This site helps you do that.
  5. Try to be hydrated, well-rested and ideally stress-free (check in early) for your flight since failing to do those amplifies the effects of jet lag.

On travel day

  1. Hydrate & limit alcohol. Drink 8oz of water per hour of flight and preferably avoid but at least limit alcohol intake.
  2. Optimize by conditions for sleep:
    • Ear plugs & sleep mask, white noise app, noise-cancelling headphones. Some people swear by the Bose over-ear noise-cancelling headphones. I’m actually a fan of these in-ear ones for flights.
    • Reduce or eliminate screen time or if you must use f.Lux and Nightshift (iOS) to remove blue wavelength light before sleep.
    • Sleeping pills yield conflicting advice but all agree that a plane is not the place to experiment for the first time so make sure that you have previous experience with whatever meds you use.

After you get there

  1. Melatonin over-the-counter hormone supplement can help reset your circadian rhythm (internal body clock).
  2. Sun and exercise will likewise help. Vitamin D (produced by the body when exposed to sunlight) helps reset your internal clock.
  3. Honor the local schedule even though your body is telling you otherwise.
  4. I’m a fan of splurging for massage the day following arrival especially if was particularly long flight.

Crosslinks:

  • See Bernie Miller’s podcast episode for more sleep tips. Bernie has two decades of experience treating sleep disorders for the Mayo Clinic and shares a ton of useful advice on how to get the best possible sleep.
  • Day 11 of NomadPrep has an entire day devoted to wellness tips while on the road.